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I don't know why people don't like Professor Besnier. I actually went to each and every one of the lectures (and believe lectures aren't my thing ...) because I thoroughly enjoyed them. And even though he did summarize the readings, he also put in some new, thought-provoking points. And because he did summarize the readings, you didn't actually have to do the readings if you didn't want to. I did because it was worth my time. I thought this class was an eye-opener for the world and culture outside of America. I don't see how it's difficult to do well in the class. The only thing I didn't particularly thoroughly enjoy was the Research paper, but other than that, pure pleasure.
i really enjoyed the class; besnier was a bit long-winded, but overall an interesting character to see in front of a lecture hall. i stopped going to the lectures after the first midterm; it was really easy to do well on the tests, as long as you did the reading and go to the discussions. I felt I gained a lot more from the discussions than i did from the actual lectures. the questions on the exams were WAY easy, and as long as you got down the general principals and a few examples (which besnier and the TAs would beat into your head; i must have heard about tuvaluans a million times) you're bound to get a good grade. overall, i'd recommend anyone who doesn't mind reading to take the class.
this class is the biggest waste of time. there is no point in going to class, because all the professor does is summarize what is in the readings, which are so boring and pointless. the ta's do nothing but grade your exams hard. the class is out of 100 points with no curve which isn't fun. and of course, the midterm and final are both essays. i am pre-comm so i needed to take this class, but don't unless you absolutely have to. it is horrible and i would not recommend it.
While I hear that the other teacher last quarter for this class was a lot worse, I have a hard time trying to understand that. The exams for this class are based entirely on the book and the reader, which is nice, because then I don't have to try to stay awake during the lectures. In fact, after three times I simply stopped going. Besnier goes in circles and doesn't really say anything that you can't divulge from reading the stuff you have to read anyway. Oh well.
Either Prof. Besnier has made a complete about-face in the past year, or past reviewers have some sort of personal grudge against him. True, he can seem somewhat arrogant. But all in all, he's an excellent and interesting lecturer who is definitely not Euro-centric. In lecture, he uses examples of peoples from all over the world, according each of them equal respect. His class completely turned me on to linguistic anthropology, and I might even change my major. Either the Polynesian languages and cultures class was just a horrible class and this is a good one, or he has changed, or people need to get over their problems with having a white man teach the class, because his Anthro 33 class was absolutely awesome.
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